This is the third and final part from Coach Drew on Building Mental Awareness in the gym. Keep these tips in mind to make that final push and continue to progress towards your goals.
I’m the first to admit that being mentally tough in the middle of an intense WOD is one of the hardest things to do - I’ve let go of countless barbells, slowed to a walk on a final run, and rested more than a few seconds in between rounds. Finding mental toughness takes the same amount if not more time to develop than our physical skills.
Understand the intent of the WOD
At the whiteboard, listen to what the intent of the workout is. For example, if a coach says the 10 toes-to-bar should be done in no more than 2 sets, than the intent is to build your aerobic capacity to perform unbroken toes-to-bar or a scaled version of that movement. Dropping to singles instead of scaling down to match this intent can delay your growth as an athlete and creates a missed opportunity to build your mental toughness.
Try this next time and listen for the intent of the workout or ask a coach at the whiteboard. Then if you need to, scale movements to match the intent. This might mean doing toes to space instead of toes to bar to hold on to the bar for 5 reps.
Make a plan
My least favorite WODs are short metcons with two movements. The intensity of these workouts creates the mental challenge that makes me want to stay home and hit snooze. Whether it’s a metcon, cardio day, or long chipper, creating an initial plan before jumping in a WOD provides a framework when all we want to do is stop mid rep. Making a plan also means challenging yourself and pushing your comfort zone.
Try this next time, when you’re worried about a WOD come up with a simple plan to keep you going. If the WOD calls for 10 toes to bar and 10 burpees, plan to do 2 sets of 5 toes to bar and a steady burpee pace. When the clock starts stick to your plan, try not to focus on the person next to you for the first half of the workout. Follow your plan until the end and see how that impacts your workout.
Take a breath
Another strategy we overlook in midst of a WOD is coming back to your breath. Putting our focus on our breathing during rest periods or movement transitions can provide the reprieve you need to get into the next movement. This level of mindfulness allows you to quiet the chatter in your head and regain control over one of the things we can control in the middle of a workout.
Try this next time, when you find yourself gasping for air in the middle of a WOD. Place your hands on top of your head and take a deep breath through your nose - this opens up your lungs and starts to tell your body to relax. Give yourself a short countdown and focus on breathing in that countdown before you jump back in.